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Black Powder Firearms

Individuals possessing or planning to acquire a black powder firearm – whether it is a muzzleloader or a firearm that discharges black powder cartridges – should be aware of requirements that may apply to them under the Firearms Act.

Muzzleloaders made before 1898

All black powder muzzleloaders made before 1898 are considered antique firearms. Antique firearms are exempt from the licence and registration requirements set out in the Firearms Act.

Muzzleloaders made after 1898

All matchlock, flintlock and wheel lock long guns are considered antiques no matter when they were made. Like older firearms of these types, they are exempt from the licence and registration requirements set out in the Firearms Act.

Percussion cap long guns and muzzle-loading black powder handguns made after 1898 are not considered antiques even if they are copies of an earlier antique model. Newer percussion cap long guns are classified as non-restricted firearms; newer handguns, including matchlock, wheel lock and flintlock handguns made after 1898, are classified as restricted if their barrel length is over 105 mm (about 4 inches), or prohibited if their barrel length is 105 mm or less.

It is important to note that there are a lot of reproduction firearms on the market. In addition, some firearms were made over a period of several years spanning the 1898 cut-off date. Individuals possessing or planning to acquire a percussion cap firearm or a muzzle-loading handgun need to know if it was made before or after 1898 in order to know what rules apply.

Firearms that discharge black powder cartridges

A firearm that discharges black powder cartridges might be considered an antique if it was made before 1898, but not necessarily. It would depend on the caliber or gauge. For example, a shotgun that discharges 12 gauge centre-fire cartridges would not be considered an antique no matter how old it is. More information on which ones are antiques  is available by calling 1-800-731-4000.  

Licence and registration requirements

There are no licence and registration requirements for antique firearms. In all other cases, a firearms licence authorizing possession of that class of firearm is required, as well as a registration certificate for each restricted or prohibited firearm in an individual’s possession. Canadian residents can refer to the fact sheet Firearm Owners and Users Aged 18 and Older  to obtain more information. Non-residents can refer to the fact sheet Firearm Users Visiting Canada.

Obtaining ammunition

A firearms licence is required in order to obtain ammunition. As defined in the Criminal Code, “ammunition”  means “a cartridge containing a projectile designed to be discharged from a firearm and, without restricting the generality of the foregoing, includes a caseless cartridge and a shot shell.” The definition does not include loose black powder and shot used in muzzleloaders. Black powder is regulated primarily under the Explosives Act, which is administered by Natural Resources Canada . More information on requirements for the purchase of loose black powder can be obtained through Natural Resources Canada or by consulting the Explosives Act .

Storing and transporting black powder firearms

As set out in regulations supporting the Firearms Act , individuals are required to store and transport all firearms, including antique firearms, safely to deter loss, theft and accidents. All firearms must be unloaded for storage and transportation.

Exception: Black powder muzzleloaders do not have to be unloaded when they are being transported between hunting sites if their firing cap or flint has been removed.


For more information, contact the CFP.

This fact sheet is intended to provide general information only. For legal references, please refer to the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act and their corresponding regulations. Provincial, territorial and municipal laws, regulations and policies may also apply.

La présente fiche de renseignements est également disponible en français.